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Permits Types and Processes

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District authorizes work in waters of the United States under four types of permits: State Programmatic General Permits, Nationwide Permits, Letters of Permission, and Individual Permits.

Regional General Permits
In the Baltimore District, we use two types of Regional General Permits: State Programmatic General Permits or Nationwide Permits that are reserved for only the most minor impacts to waters of the United States regulated by the Corps. For projects with the potential for substantial environmental impacts, we use either Letters of Permission or Individual Permits.

The level of review increases substantially from Regional General Permit review to Individual Permit Review. Within the Baltimore District, project managers will try to work with applicants to make sure that any impacts to waters or wetlands are avoided to the most practicable extent to best preserve our aquatic resources and to help enable applicants to qualify for the most expeditious review.

State Programmatic General Permits

Maryland State Programmatic General Permit-5 (MDSPGP-5)

MDSPGP-5 (click to access full permit) authorizes work in waters of the United States within the state of Maryland for activities that would cause no more than minimal adverse environmental effects, individually and cumulatively, subject to the permit’s specific terms and conditions. This programmatic general permit has been developed in cooperation with Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) that has regulatory authority over waters in the state of Maryland. MDSPGP-5 became effective Oct. 1, 2016, and will expire Sept. 30, 2021. To read more about MDSPGP-5, please visit the Sourcebook.

MDSPGP-5 aims at protecting aquatic resources within the Baltimore District’s jurisdictional authorities in Maryland, improving permit application response times and adding a certain degree of predictability to the permit program.

The substantial modifications from MDSPGP-4 to MDSPGP-5 include:

1.)   The addition of temporary construction impacts into the description and thresholds for several activities, which reduces the need to use multiple MDSPGP-5 activities for a single project;

2.)   An increase to the maximum total (temporary and permanent) acreage impact threshold for general maintenance activity (Category A), which means more projects can be approved by the state without needing to go to the Corps for review;

3.)   The addition of two new activities specific to culvert pipe grouting and new stormwater management activities;

4.)   The removal of the Special Area Management Plan (SAMP) study area project activity;

5.)   A new condition requiring a remediation plan for the inadvertent release of fluids and lubricants during regulated directional drilling activities authorized by the utility line activity;

6.)   The clarification of general requirements concerning wetland and stream compensatory mitigation. For unavoidable impacts, compensatory mitigation may be required to replace the loss of wetland, stream, and/or other aquatic resource functions and area. The Corps (or approved state authority) is responsible for determining the appropriate form and amount of compensatory mitigation when a proposed project results in more than minimal individual and cumulative adverse environmental effects.

Pennsylvania State Programmatic General Permit-5 (PASPGP-5)

PASPGP-5 (click to access full permit) authorizes work in waters of the United States within portions of the state of Pennsylvania for activities that would cause no more than minimal adverse environmental effects, individually and cumulatively, subject to the permit’s specific terms and conditions. This programmatic general permit operates in conjunction with Pennsylvania’s Department of the Environment’s (PADEP) state regulatory program that protects the aquatic environment in a manner equivalent to the Department of the Army regulatory program. PASPGP-5 became effective July 1, 2016, and will expire June 30, 2021.

View the May 2, 2016 public notice regarding the issuance of PASPGP-5

Some of the modifications from PASPGP-4 to PASPGP-5 include:

1.) The portion of the Delaware River that is ineligible for permit issuance has been extended beyond the limits identified in the last version of the permit;

2.) The impact thresholds include no greater than one acre of impact to aquatic resources (total wetland and waterway); and no more than 1,000 linear feet of stream loss;

3.) Projects that require Corps review for permit issuance have been redefined for linear projects. The reporting thresholds apply to single and complete projects, rather than the impacts associated with the overall project. Review is required if the single and complete project:

> 0.50 acre of direct/indirect, temporary/permanent impact to waters or wetlands;

> 0.10 acre of permanent conversion of forested or scrub shrub wetland; or

> 250 linear feet of permanent stream impact.

4.) Exceptions to the 250 linear feet threshold includes up to 500 linear feet for activities involving bank stabilization and/or stream rehabilitation, protection and enhancement. There is no linear threshold for activities verified under PADEP’s General Permit-1 for Fish and Habitat Enhancement Structures or projects approved by the Environmental Review Committee;

5.) Additional criteria for Corps review includes single and complete utility line crossings of water and/or wetlands that exceed 500 linear feet (except overhead lines); and utility lines placed within a jurisdictional area in which the line runs parallel to or along a stream;

6.) Any activity authorized as a Waiver 2, which includes water obstructions in a stream or floodway with a drainage area of 100 acres or less, no longer automatically requires Corps review. For projects involving greater than 250 linear feet of permanent impact to streams and/or rivers, an application must be submitted to the Corps. This waiver does not apply to wetlands within the floodway. The PASPGP-5 reporting threshold applies;

<250 feet permanent impact: Corps review not necessary

>250 feet permanent impact: Corps review necessary

7.) If the impacts of a single and complete project and compensatory mitigation for that project exceed the PASPGP-5 eligibility thresholds, the impacts associated with the compensatory mitigation may be authorized through a Nationwide Permit 27;

8.) Conditions regarding essential fish habitat and Atlantic and Shortnose Sturgeon have been added;

9.) All projects that result in temporary impacts require monitoring of aquatic resources to ensure restoration. A form for monitoring has been developed for consistency. All temporary impacts that exceed one year require Corps review.      

Nationwide Permits
Nationwide Permits (NWPs) are general permits issued on a nationwide basis to authorize minor activities with minimal evaluation time. NWPs have been established to reduce the regulatory reporting burden for specific activities that have no more than minimal impacts to the aquatic environment.

Please NOTE, most NWPs have been suspended in Maryland and Pennsylvania since there are State Programmatic General Permits already in place. On March 19, 2012, the Baltimore District issued a Special Public Notice #12-32 announcing the Final Regional Conditions and Suspension for the 2012 Nationwide Permits in the State of Maryland, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania within the Baltimore and Philadelphia District’s regulatory geographic boundaries, the District of Columbia, and certain military installations of northern Virginia (i.e., Cameron Station, Fort Belvoir, Fort Myer, and the Pentagon).  

Individual Permits

Individual permits (IPs - also known as a standard permits - SPs) are generally reserved for projects with potential for substantial environmental impacts. An IP requires a full public interest review, including public notices and coordination with involved agencies, interested parties and the general public.

To learn more about each type of permitting process, please visit the Sourcebook.

For our Step-by-Step Application Review Process.

Joint Applications:

The Corps of Engineers has an administrative appeal process whereby applicants and landowners may appeal denied permits, issued permits that contain requirements that are unacceptable to the applicant, or approved jurisdictional determinations. Although these decisions are made by Corps District offices, requests for appeals of such decisions are appealed to the Corps Division offices. Requests for appeal must be furnished to the Division office within 60 days of the date of the appealable decision. A site visit or an appeal conference or meeting may be conducted during the appeal process. A decision on the merits of the appeal based on the administrative record is normally made in 90 days. The Division will either uphold the District decision or send the case back to the District, with direction to make a new decision.

Procedures for appealing Corps permitting decisions are found at 33 CFR Part 331.


How to Apply for a Permit

The application forms used to apply for permits depend on the state in which the work is to be accomplished.

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The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources are accepting Joint Applications for State Commercial Shellfish Aquaculture leases and Corps of Engineers Federal Permits in the Chesapeake Bay, its tributaries and the Coastal Bays. The joint permit application should be submitted to Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Fisheries Service, Shellfish Program B-2, 580 Taylor Avenue, Annapolis, MD 21401. DNR will forward your joint application to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, or you can also send to the Corps at the same time as DNR to help decrease review processing times. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers must issue a permit before you may conduct shellfish aquaculture activities on your lease from DNR. Click to view more info and to download the Joint State/Federal Application for Commercial Shellfish Aquaculture leases. Additional information can also be found on Maryland Department of Natural Resources' web page on the Shellfish Aquaculture Program (http://www.dnr.state.md.us/fisheries/oysters/industry/aquaculture/).

For work in the District of Columbia and Maryland, use the attached Maryland Department of the Environment and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Joint Application for construction in any floodplain, waterway or wetlands area.  You may also write or call the office below for an application.

For work in Washington, D.C., mail the application to:

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Baltimore District - CENAB-OP-RMS
P.O. Box 1715
Baltimore, Maryland 21203-1715
(410) 962-4500

A copy of the application for work in Washington, D.C. should also be sent to:

The Associate Director
Water Quality Division
District Department of the Environment
1200 First Street, N.E., 5th Floor
Washington, DC 20002

Any application for work in Maryland should be mailed to the address below. 

Maryland Department of the Environment
Water Management Administration
Wetlands and Waterways Program
Montgomery Park Business Center
Suite 430
1800 Washington Boulevard
Baltimore, Maryland 21230-1708

NOTE:  If sending application, mail it to the attention of Regulatory Services Coordination Office

If you need to contact the office directly, either write at the address listed above or call the following:

Regulatory Services Coordination Office - (410) 537-3762 or (800) 876-0200
Nontidal Wetlands and Waterways Division - (410) 537-3768
Tidal Wetlands Division - (410) 537-3837  

For work in Pennsylvania, use the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Joint ApplicationYou may also write or call the office below for an application. It is important that you provide complete information in the application, as requested.

Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection
Bureau of Dams, Waterways and Wetlands
Rachel Carson State Office Building
Market Street
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17105
(717) 787-6827

The Process: After the state or Corps office receives the application, it will be assigned an identification number. Then within 15 days of receipt of all the required information, a determination will be made regarding the type of permit required. Depending on the type of permit process, a public notice will be issued with a 15-day to 30-day comment period, if necessary. The proposal is reviewed by the Corps, general public, special interest groups, and state, local and other related federal agencies. After the comment period, the Corps reviews all comments, and may consult other federal agencies. The Corps may ask you for additional information and conduct a public hearing, if needed. For individual permits, when all considerations are satisfied, the District Engineer makes a decision to either issue or deny the permit application. You will than receive a permit or written explanation of the reason for denial. For State Programmatic General Permits, this federal permit is usually issued along with the State's authorization.

To view the USACE regulatory process flow chart, please click here.